I'M A BRIDE NOW, TOO!
If you follow my on Instagram, you're probably already aware of this... but here's the full story.
About a month ago, Dustin and I were talking about finding a cheap flight to anywhere warmer than home. We both love winter sports and activities, but come March, just about everyone in the UP is thinking, yeah, so... is spring ever coming? Dustin and I both have this fascination with California. I've been to the LA area once, as well as San Fran. Dustin hadn't ever been to California before. As much as we fantasized about it, the voice in the back of my head was grumbling about finances, that maybe we should wait until summer or fall once I've shot a few more weddings (this time of the year is slow season for us photogs!).
Later that day, I tuned into my favorite Instagram stories when I came upon my friend Lea's (Vienna Glenn Photography) story. It just so happened that she was looking for a second shooter on March 17th in Santa Barbara... the SAME general time that Dustin and I were looking at escaping the snow!!!
I replied to her story instantly, and started browsing Google Flights. As anyone who's ever flown in or out of the UP knows, its quite the feat to find an affordable flight, especially when you're flying more than one person. For fun, I checked direct flights from Chicago to Los Angeles. Lo and behold, we found tickets for Ayden, Dustin, and I to all fly for the TOTAL price of $444!!!! That's cheaper than most single tickets in the UP!!! So in a heartbeat, we snatched up that deal and penciled in road trip time to Chicago too. With the tickets being such a steal, Dustin's sister, Hailey, and her boyfriend, Tyler, also bought seats right behind us and adventured along.
Travel hack revealed: don't park at O'Hare airport!!! We reserved a cheaper spot ahead of time by using the Spothero App. We took the train to the terminal. In total, parking and the train cost us about $65 in Chicago for about a week, and I accidentally reserved an extra day of parking, ha!
After traveling in a car for 6 hours, flying for 4.5 hours, waiting for a rental car, and then driving another 1.5 hours in LA traffic to our hotel in Camarillo, we thought we had a peaceful moment of vacation rest... until a half hour after arriving, Ayden woke up with the 24 hour flu! As I rushed Ayden to the bath tub while he was projectile vomiting on me, Dustin called the front desk to discover that they didn't have a housekeeping key in the office?! So we had to wait until the next morning to get our new sheets... HA!
So, to start our first full day refreshed, we decided to take a leisurely hike somewhere nearby where we could take our time with Ayden and let him throw rocks in a stream.
Through the whole hike, we were in parent mode. Dustin and I were taking turns carrying Ayden on our shoulders, hydrating him, and taking all the time he needed while he still wasn't feeling 100%. On our way back up from the falls (Paradise Falls near Thousand Oaks), we rested at a teepee structure with benches and shade for Ayden. Dustin asked, "do you think we could take a group picture here?"
Being the photographer I am, at first I say, "well... the light kind of sucks right here for that." Hahaha! But I started walking the bluff to figure out where we could at least take a group selfie for the sake of documenting. As I spun back around to talk to Dustin, he was on one knee, ring gleaming between his fingertips. I remember freezing, staring, and not processing what was happening. I remember my arms slowing coming up and asking, "...is this... for real??!"
Through a smile and teary eyes, Dustin laughed, "... Uh.. yeah!"
"YES!" I shouted, and we threw each other into our arms and cried through laughter.
Meanwhile... Tyler had just taught Ayden how to properly flex his muscles... so while we were in this emotional whirlwind, Ayden thought Hailey had her phone camera open to photograph his flexing instead, hahaha.
It turns out that the ring Dustin actually had for me had come in back in Michigan while we were gone! So before we left, he borrowed one of his Grandma Jeannine's rings for me to wear in the meantime, and I couldn't have been more honored!
On the hike back and car ride into Malibu, we spent about an hour or so calling our loved ones. We would start getting confused and lost in our stories because we kept repeating the same thing about a sentence apart, haha!
The rest of our day was spent hanging around Zuma Beach and exploring the Santa Monica Pier.
p.s. YES. We keep getting this question. We do have a date... or two... picked out! The ceremony will be on September 27, 2019, and reception will be on September 28, 2019 ;)